You have to figure Los Angeles will be home to some of the most spectacular talent the wide world of So You Think You Can Dance has to offer. It’s where you go to get discovered. These people are supposed to be the best of the best. It’s show biz. This, after all, is where J. Lo came to make her mark! (And we all know she is the true barometer for exceptional talent.)
With the help of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mary Murphy and Nigel hand out a few tickets to Vegas, but none to a dancer anywhere near as fascinating as last week’s showstopper.
The highlights of the night are 18-year-old Jasmine Mason and her brother Marshea, who has auditioned for the last three seasons of the show. Six weeks before their auditions (six weeks!), they were in a massive car accident when a car pulled out into the street and forced them into oncoming traffic. Marshea was pronounced dead when the EMTs arrived, but he miraculously emerged from a coma after two days to make a full recovery.
First up is Jasmine, whose jazz routine to "I'd Rather Go Blind" is somewhat distractingly sexual yet incredibly graceful, putting her enviable flexibility on full display. All of the floor-writhing is very Mimi from Rent for me, but she has so much alluring maturity in her movement, despite being only 18.
After raving about her beauty and her spectacular hair, the judges send Jasmine straight through to Vegas -- and then it's Marshea's turn. It’s still hard to comprehend how he can possibly be competing in a dance competition when he was in a coma – a coma! – six weeks ago, but he's controlled, graceful and in incredible shape. He gets a well-deserved ticket to Vegas without any commentary from the judges.
By far the most entertaining audition of the night is that of Jonathan Anzelone, who waited four years for his second audition after embarrassing himself in Season 4 and could probably star in a workout video or 10 if this dancing thing doesn’t work out. In Season 4, Jonathan famously stripped in the confessional booth before arguing with the judges when they tried to criticize him. Needless to say, he didn’t make it, and now, he tells Cat he's a changed man. Ooh la la, I have stopped listening. He is genetically superior to 99 percent of the population of the world.
"The Italian Stallion" charms Nigel and Mary before embarking on an crazy-impressive break dancing routine that shows off his ridiculous flexibility and his balance -- he practically walks on his hands for a good 15 seconds, but does it gracefully -- and he bounces on his butt with his legs fully split! And it doesn't hurt him! And he repeatedly flexes his butt muscles while doing the “Bootylicious” dance! I ignore the fact that he bizarrely ends his routine by pulling back his tank top and flashing a nip.
Here, we have a rather large dilemma: While Jonathan is obviously talented and is an excellent contortionist, is he truly a dancer? Mary thinks he deserves a chance at Vegas, but Nigel thinks he still needs to prove he can truly dance, not contort, at choreography. JTF is the tiebreaker, and he agrees with Nigel, but let's be honest: Jonathan deserves to go through based on attractiveness alone. Unfortunately, though, the standards for SYTYCD are higher and he doesn’t make the cut after choreography.
The most irritating audition of the night is that of the Ninja Twins, or "Ninjas with Attitude," as Nigel calls them. These guys are two years too old to be on the show and yet we still are forced to sit through their 10-minute audition package, only to see Nigel commend their talent before sending them packing.
The self-professed Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie duo performs an impressive classical routine to "Man in the Mirror,” and while they're good, they're not as in sync as they should be if they’re competing to be the top dancing duo in the country. But the Cirque de Soleil-esque two-man cartwheel at the end of their routine wins me over.
Alas, no Vegas. Glad I was exposed to that.
Most befuddling audition goes to 27-year-old circus performer David Matz, who is determined to shatter the negative stereotypes associated with the circus. He shows up with what looks like a giant metal hula hoop and performs a variety of acrobatics beside it, inside it, with no hands, with no feet, and watching him is making me dizzy so I'm going to stop.
What he does inside that hoop is truly remarkable; it's beautiful and graceful and you can only imagine the type of athleticism it requires. But does David have the dancing talent that can transcend circus performance? Can he compete in other genres?
The judges send him to choreography to find out, but he excuses himself after a mere 40 minutes, telling the cameras that he can’t keep up.
Next: And the runner-up for best sob story is...The second-best sob story of the night goes to Sam, a cute blond who looks exactly like Dr. McSteamy from Grey’s Anatomy and begins weeping halfway through her sit-down with Cat. Six months ago, her mom kicked her out of their home because they didn't get along. Mom couldn't handle living with her, so her best friend took her in and she's determined to prove everything will be alright in the end with a haunting routine that shows off her flexibility, her balance and her composure. There's a certain sorrow she portrays when she dances that’s immediately recognizable and very poignant.
Nigel, however, tells her that she's a pre-transformation Natalie Portman in Black Swan -- she needs to learn how to feel the routine rather than simply perform it. Sam is sent through to choreography, where she becomes the only (highlighted) dancer from tonight’s episode to make it through to Vegas.
The most unique audition of the night goes to the martial arts-trained Cole Horibe, who's finally coming to terms with the fact that his dancing looks like martial arts. Nothing to complain about, as far as I'm concerned: He's graceful and fluid, yet still incredibly unique. He incorporates plenty of impressively fast high kicks and break dance spins into a fast-paced routine based on a stoic warrior character. After Nigel makes the token Bruce Lee joke, he sends Cole through to Vegas.
Most gimmicky and weird audition goes to Stephen Jacobson, a member of the Cincinnati Ballet who skips onstage dressed like many of an East Coast bro, with his button-down shirt totally undone and his khakis rolled up to the knees. He embarks upon a routine he describes as "ballet, but not classical," which he says he threw together at the last minute. Annoyingly, it shows. He doesn't really do much except ham at the audience, glide, pantomime and jump every few seconds -- and Nigel stops him in a blind rage, telling him he should be shot for choreographing such an inane routine.
Though it’s obvious that Stephen has talent, the gimmicks make it hard to tell, but it's his lucky day, because the judges give him a second chance. He redeems himself with a beautiful, graceful, truly classical routine to "I Surrender," and he gets a standing ovation and an instant ticket to Vegas.
Most boring audition of the night goes to 18-year-old Megan Branch... or not. What is billed as a standard, sob-story ballet audition morphs into a gorgeously modern, part-street, part-classical routine, set to something Goldfrappy. It shows off perfect technique and balance, and my only regret is that they don’t give her more airtime. She is one of the best of the night – one of the most talented, for sure. She’s also one of the only dancers you just can’t stop watching.
All of the judges are enchanted by Megan’s beauty and her likeability, and they send her straight through to Vegas.
My favorite thing about the night? Cat’s fabulous maxi dress at the one-hour mark.
What was your favorite? Was there anyone who compared to last week’s Exorcist? Were you as enchanted by the Italian Stallion as I was?